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Post-orogenic extension and metamorphic core complexes in a heterogeneous crust: the role of crustal layering inherited from collision. Application to the Cyclades (Aegean domain)

Abstract : The development of metamorphic core complexes (MCC) corresponds to a mode of lithospheric continental stretching that follows collision. In most of the models that explain the formation of the MCC, high thermal gradients are necessary to weaken the lower crust and to induce its ascent. Such models fail to explain the exhumation of high pressure-low temperature metamorphic rocks in metamorphic core complex structures as observed in the Cycladic Blueschists in the Aegean domain. Besides, account for the lithological crustal stratification induced from collision has never been tested. In this paper, we use fully coupled thermomechanical modelling to investigate the impact of structural heritage and initial thermal gradient on the behaviour of the post-orogenic continental lithosphere. The models are designed and validated by petrological, structural and time data from the Cyclades. As a result, high thermal gradients (Moho temperature higher than 800°C) are neither necessary nor always sufficient to induce the development of a metamorphic core complex. At the contrary, the rheological layering of the crust inherited from collision is a first-order parameter controlling the development of extensional structures in post-orogenic settings. 'Cold' MCC can develop if the crust is made of a strong nappe thrust on top of weaker metamorphic cover and basement units, as observed in the Cyclades.
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Benjamin Huet, Laetitia Le Pourhiet, Loic Labrousse, Evgenii Burov, Laurent Jolivet. Post-orogenic extension and metamorphic core complexes in a heterogeneous crust: the role of crustal layering inherited from collision. Application to the Cyclades (Aegean domain). Geophysical Journal International, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2011, 184, pp.611-625. ⟨10.1111/j.1365-246X.2010.04849.x⟩. ⟨insu-00564011⟩

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